Orthodox ceremonies held at Grabarka shrine

The main service was conducted by the Superior of the Polish Autocephalic Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Archbishop Sawa. Michał Zieliński/PAP

The Transfiguration of Christ, one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, was celebrated on Monday on the Holy Mount of Grabarka, eastern Poland, the traditional pilgrimage centre for Orthodox Christians in the country.

This annual event is the key religious ceremony at Grabarka.

The main service, conducted on Monday by the Superior of the Polish Autocephalic Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Archbishop Sawa, was attended by Polish state and local government officials.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, in a letter addressed to the participants of the Monday feast said that the spiritual tradition of the Orthodox Church is an integral part of Poland's heritage, adding that its faithful currently constitute the second largest religious community in the country.

"The church and the faithful (of the Polish Orthodox Church - PAP) for centuries, and also during the last difficult century, have built our homeland and enriched it with their great achievements. We are proud and grateful for this presence and for sharing our common path," the prime minister wrote. He also said that Poland is proud of the fact that "for centuries it has been a country of many nations and religions, a country of relations based on mutual understanding and respect."

The Holy Mount of Grabarka is considered to be the holiest location in Poland for Orthodox Christians. It is the site of the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord and is home to the women's monastery of Ss. Marta and Maria. The most prominent and well-known feature of Grabarka is the forest of crosses surrounding the church, all brought to the Mount by pilgrims.

Grabarka has been a centre of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians from Poland and other countries since the 18th century.

The Orthodox Church in Poland estimates the number of its faithful at 450,000-500,000. In the latest national census, some 156,000 Polish people declared they were Orthodox Christians.

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